Lawn Care Hiring Guide: How to Hire the Best Employees

Published on March 8, 2019

Labor issues come with the territory of owning a lawn care business. However, this lawn care hiring guide will help you to over come those obstacles and find the best employees for your business.

The best lawn and landscaping employees are:

  1. Professional.
  2. Experienced.
  3. Excited to work for you.

In this lawn care hiring guide, we'll uncover the greatest strategies and secrets the most successful lawn care owners use every year.

This guide will help you pinpoint your lawn care hiring problems - and fix them.

No more "labor droughts." No more “bad hires.” No more micro-management and stress headaches.

Get the kind of employees that most other lawn care owners can only dream of...

Want to know how to find, train, AND keep great employees?

Get Your FREE Lawn Care Hiring Guide Now!

When It's Time to Hire a New Lawn Care Employee

You won't know it's time to hire a new lawn care employee until you answer these hiring questions:

1. Are you growing fast enough to put a new, full-time hire to work?

When you feel like you are drowning in work, it's time to seriously consider bringing on a new employee.

2. Do you have the time and resources to properly train a new hire?

Nothing will hurt your business more than a poorly-trained worker.

3. Are your clients happy with your services?

Don't hire anyone until you know you can provide (and train for) a service that makes your clients happy.

4. Do you have the money to handle a short-term profit loss?

No one starts out at 100% efficiency. Your profits will take a hit while your new hire learns the ropes.

5. Do you have a process in place?

Are you ready to:

  • Manage a new employee
  • Put them on the payroll
  • Fill Federal or State legal requirements for them

If you can answer “yes!” to all of these questions, you are ready to hire new lawn care employees.

How to Find and Hire the Best Lawn Care Employees

“Have you tried everything?

Most small business owners think they have.

Yet, they’re still stuck in the field because they couldn't find employees to fill their roster.

In fact, most lawn care owners barely tap into the best hiring resources.

This guide will put you in the running to start hiring the best possible lawn care employees for your business.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Use the Best Marketing Strategies to Find Great Lawn Care Employees

You spend all this time and effort in acquiring new clients, so why not use the same skills to find new lawn care employees?

Our free lawn care marketing guide allows you to capture the interest of great lawn care employees and win them over.

Our free lawn care marketing guide includes advice on:

2. Advertise Your Open Job Positions

Ever wonder how the big lawn care companies keep finding all these great employees?

The secret is paid advertisements.

When you use platforms like Craigslist or Facebook, you can supercharge your hiring process and greatly increase the number of qualified employees applying to your company.

The trick?

You have to do it right… otherwise, you’ll spend too much money and won't see any new hires.

3. Talk to Your Vendors

Are you friendly with your vendors? If not, you should be.

Typically, they'll know everyone in the area with any experience.

Take the time to build a healthy relationship with your local vendors and supply stores.

Start by bringing them a couple of pizzas, or a box of donuts. Be kind to them, do favors for them. ask them if they know anybody who might be interested in working for you.

Then, you can ask them if they know anyone who might be interested in working for you.

4. Utilize Friends, Family, and Social Media

Most of the “big players" use this strategy when they need to fill up their roster for a season.

Let your friends and family know you're looking for great workers and put out “help wanted” posts on Facebook.

It’s free. It’s effective. It hits your local area.

Here’s an example message I’ve seen get shared on Social Media:

“My company, XYZ Lawns and Landscapes, is hiring. Share this post if you know anyone who might be interested in ABC position. We take care of our employees, and we always pay on time.”

How to Hire Your First Lawn Care Employee

Your first lawn care employee will go two ways:

  • They might slow you down and hurt the growth of your business.
  • OR they will double your productivity and give you free time to grow faster.

It all depends… do you know what to look for?

How to Find the First Perfect Lawn Care Employee

  • Did they show up on time for the interview?
  • Do they have a professional attitude where they can be respectful to clients and your future team?
  • Are they experienced so they can skip the training period? (They might even know a few strategies used by your competition.)

What to Avoid When Hiring Your First Lawn Care Employee

  • People looking to make a quick buck.
  • A family member or a friend. This is one of the most common hiring mistakes.
  • Inexperienced. They might be cheaper, but that comes with the price of slowing you down.

How to Interview and Hire Your New Lawn Care Employee

You loved their application.  

The next step is to call them.

Come up with a list of questions... Ask about their work history and experience in the industry.

Also, throw them them one or two curveball questions to give you a feel for their real, “unscripted” personality.

  • If you get a bad feeling on the phone call, it’s probably not going to work out.
  • When they show up late or look like they haven’t bathed in three weeks, you don't want to hire them.
  • If the applicant does well on the phone, then do an in-person interview. Prepare a list of questions. Aim to get a feel for their personality and if they can act like a professional.

Never hire out of pity. Never hire because "you get along with them." Hire them because you think they will help grow your business.

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5 Steps to Compensate Attract Great Employees

The best employees need to be paid more BUT they can also make you thousands more in pure profit every year.

The problem is, most owners think they can't afford to pay their best employees what they’re worth. As a result, they settle for the “cheap guys” and pay them dirt.

Good news...

It only takes 5 steps to pay your lawn care employees what they deserve:

  1. Make sure you price your services right. Don’t be cheap, just because everyone else is.
  2. Figure out the average wages of your market. For top talent: you will have to pay over the average to keep them happy.
  3. Pay them! In general, your overhead (including your salary) should make up about 12% of your sales.
  4. Incentivize them to stay. This is a seasonal industry, so you need to find a way to keep your best team members around. Bonuses for “consecutive years worked,” pay raises, and other incentives will encourage the best guys to return.
  5. Pay attention to Overtime Laws. Especially if you are using a unique “pay for performance” model ... (see below).

The "Pay for Performance" Model

If you have the resources to set this up, Jonathan Pototschnik (of Lawn Care Millionaire) suggests a “pay for performance” model:

Warning! The pay-for-performance model is not for beginners.

When implemented incorrectly, it could end up losing you money. Make sure you have the right lawn care software (with job costing tools) to manage your business and keep your profits high.

When your best employees are invested in your company, they will work much harder to help it grow. They will make you more money.

Not to mention, you will dodge the stress and headaches from unmotivated employees.

Grow Your Lawn Care Business... Faster 
(and with Less Stress)​

Instant invoicing

Better scheduling

Manage your clients and employees all in one system

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8 Ways to Retain Your Favorite Lawn Care Employees

Are your favorite lawn care employees getting poached?

You could lose more than labor:

  • You lose their experience.
  • Morale drops across your business.
  • You risk them giving away your plans to competitors.

There are eight simple ways to increase your team's happiness:

  1. Build a reputation for quality work. This attracts quality workers.
  2. Reward loyalty. "Stay” bonuses make employees glad to return, year after year.
  3. Provide perks that no other company will.
  4. Give employees a stake in the company's growth.
  5. Recognize talent. If you see another company’s employee doing good work, go talk to them. Give them your lawn care business card, and tell them you think they’d make a good fit at your company.
  6. Build a healthy company culture.
  7. Enable employees to see the path of their own advancement.
  8. Watch for signals that your employees are unhappy. What would you do to keep a client? Do that 10 times over to keep your best employees.

Should You Make Your Lawn Care Employees Sign a Non-Competes Clause?

Short answer: Maybe not.

Long answer: For most cases, non-compete clauses may not do you any good. They are incredibly difficult to enforce - especially in this industry.

Think about this: You hire a guy who has been mowing for 10 years. He leaves after a few months for various reasons... Is he supposed to give up his lifelong experience in mowing?

Did you know that non-compete clauses can actually hurt performance?

Crews do worse after signing non-competes because they feel like the work owns them - instead of them owning their work.

Solution: Have your employees sign a non-disclosure agreement instead.

Non-disclosure agreements will protect your company's intellectual property:

  • Processes
  • Client lists
  • Routes and maps
  • Future plans, etc.

How to Hire an Office Assistant for your Lawn Care Business

The calls never stop.

Some go to your voicemail... Some hang up before you can answer.

Every time you get a call, and you don’t answer, you could miss out on a new client.

For the average lifetime value of a client, you could lose out on thousands of dollars - every time you don’t pick up your phone.

Hurts, doesn’t it?

THIS is one reason among many that every lawn care and landscaping business needs an office assistant. As you grow, you will need more than one.

How to Build a Company Culture that You Love

“My employees love working for me," sounds unrealistic. However, under the right leadership, it can happen.

Company culture is critical for business owners that want employees to enjoy going to work.

Company culture determines:

  • The overall vision for the company
  • Who gets hired into the company
  • How the company interacts with its clients, partners, and employees

Culture creation is not hard, but it is something you have to pay attention to. How do people want to be treated? How do they treat others?

A quick guide to building your company culture:

  1. Start with a purpose. Identify goals and standards.
  2. Lead by example.
  3. Be kind, and respect your employees.
  4. Be truthful. Always communicate.

A great example for a landscaping business:

  1. “Get it right the first time” attitude.
  2. Strong focus on teamwork.  
  3. Professional, yet not uptight. Looks good in front of clients, without turning its employees into machines.

When It's Time to Fire Your Worst Lawn Care Employee

Dealing with a problem lawn care employee can be the hardest part of owning a business.

After all, you’re going to have to fire another human being.

Fortunately, you can turn this painful task into a less emotional process, by watching your numbers.

You need the right lawn care software, like Service Autopilot, that has employee management tools to give you the “hard data” and prove a certain employee is holding you back.

Here’s how you can tell if it’s time to fire an employee:

Does the Employee Cost More than They Make?

Sometimes, employees stop caring. Or maybe, they were never a "good fit" in the first place.

Employees can hurt your company by:

  • Bad-mouthing clients or coworkers
  • Scaring clients away or pissing them off
  • Doing a poor job and showing no signs of improvement

This is a touchy subject for everyone. It’s best to measure employees’ performance in order to back up your feelings on this matter.

What Should You Do?

Is your employee trending from bad to worse? Here are the steps every lawn care or landscaping owner should take:

  1. Talk to them. Find out what’s wrong. You might be able to save them.
  2. Discover if there is a training problem. Even the worst employees can turn around after retraining.
  3. Give them goals to shoot for. If you never tell them what you want, how are they supposed to meet your expectations?

When all else fails, fire them the right way. Be respectful, but firm.

Remember, letting go of a bad employee is a healthy decision for everyone else in your company.  

What if All of Your Lawn Care Employees Suck?

Maybe you are fed up, and want a fresh start. However, letting go of employees can cost you a lot.

Before doing anything drastic, look at these two elements of your business:

  1. Re-evaluate your hiring practices. Are you setting up the right expectations? Are you asking them the right questions in interviews?
  2. Re-evaluate your training practices. Are you giving them enough time to adapt to your company culture and work-ethic? Do they have the resources they need to become great employees?

How to Hire Your Best Employees… Starting Right Now

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Use This Lawn Care Hiring Guide to Start Hiring Now!

Hiring the best lawn care employees is easier than you think.

The hard part is keeping them motivated.

For the lawn care and landscaping industry, this seems to get harder every year.

This guide is here to help you pinpoint and eliminate any hiring problem in your business.

With these questions answered, you'll be able to find the best lawn care and landscaping employees for your business.

Related: How Much Should You Pay Your Lawn Care Employees?

Originally publishedMarch 8, 2019 7:00 AM, updated May 4, 2021 4:27 PM

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Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.


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